Weird morning in the Strait of Gibraltar

by firmm Team

30th August 2007 08.00 until 10.00 h

The sun came up just a few minutes ago and was about to hide behind the clouds right away. When the sky is grey the ocean is grey as well, with a few shimmering spots where some sun rays meet the water. A kind of mystic ambience. After a longer search I spotted some splashes, which I assumed would be small dolphins. My whole attention was on these approaching dolphins, and just in the corner of my eye I saw something red, which looked like a buoy of a fishing boat. I took a closer look at that red something and it emerged to be a small rubber dinghy with 3 Moroccan immigrants…. They were holding a wooden thing into the air, which probably once had served as a paddle. All of them were moving so they were still alive. They didn't even ask for help, although they were just drifting in the strong current, where the big cargo ships passed really close to them.


Photo above: the 3 refugees in there rubber dinghy (Foto:KH)

As we are not allowed to take illegal immigrants on board, unless they are in a life-threatening situation, our captain called for help in Tarifa right away. We are obliged to stay next to the boat until help is here to mark the position for the rescue boat. That was the end of the illegal crossing for the 3 young, obviously freezing Moroccans, who probably already had spent many uncomfortable hours in their dinghy.


Photo above: The rescue team from Tarifa released the 3 men out of their awkward situation. (Foto: KH)

While we were waiting for the rescue boat, approximately 200 striped dolphins were swimming in the area around the rubber dinghy (coincidence?) so our guests on board had the pleasure to observe dolphins despite of the rescue operation. In the distance I saw 2 groups of pilot whales passing, which we could show our people as well.

10.00-12.00 h

Meanwhile the sky had cleared up and it was sunny again. Soon we found a group of pilot whales in a good mood, their calves came really close to the boat. By coincidence I spotted a blow, which looked like the one of a sperm whale, although we did not expect them to be here anymore at this time of the year. The second blow confirmed my suspicion and we started to get there right away. From the distance we saw it diving down. At this new position we found a new group of pilot whales, among many Moroccan fishermen who were fishing for tuna. Before we got real close to the pilot whales we saw the Orcas appear between the small fishing boats. What a great last 15 minutes! Sperm whales, Pilot Whales and Orcas, all within a radius of 300 meters!

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